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John Alan Grefe vs Viktor Korchnoi
"Grefe Stricken" (game of the day Jun-04-2020)
Lone Pine (1979), Lone Pine, CA USA, rd 7, Apr-02
French Defense: Winawer. Bogoljubow Variation (C17)  ·  0-1



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sac: 11...axb5 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-28-20  patzerboy: I am amazed there is no commentary on this game until now. For all I know, the moves right through Korchnoi giving up his Queen might be established theory, but the way in which Korchnoi proceeds to guard everything while inexorably expanding and pushing his pawns step by step, square by square is a joy to behold. I particularly like how his Queen Knight sits on its home square until move 29 because there was always a better move until that point. Then, when it does move, it is to take up a dominant position in the center one move later. Note how Korchnoi keeps the light squares covered by coordination of his pieces and pawns through most of the game. Note also the iron nerves he displays from move 54 on as White tries to corral the Black King with his own King and Queen. Masterful chess!
I'm not strong enough to say how White might have improved, but it seems to me that Korchnoi was in iron control the whole game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <patzerboy: I am amazed there is no commentary on this game until now. For all I know, the moves right through Korchnoi giving up his Queen might be established theory...>

A very good game. Thanks for pointing it out.

It seems that 7...h5

click for larger view

...was the TN in this game. Brave to risk another pawn move with not a single piece developed.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The black king's heroic journey done and the f-pawn about to complete its own career and spell final ruination to the enemy cause, Grefe decided to strike his colours.
May-28-20  SChesshevsky: In the linked game, there's comments about Korchnoi's view on the power of a queen material advantage (specifically 2 queens versus 1 queen) on a small board.

Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1994

Think his analysis and conclusion of queen material advantage power from the 1962 game mentioned might've had some part in this queen sac Grefe game.

May-28-20  hcgflynn: Why not 63. - f1=Q?
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <hcgflynn: Why not 63. - f1=Q?>

White's 63rd move was a last, desperate throw; if Korchnoi incautiously promotes, 64.Qa1+ picks up the newly minted queen.

May-28-20  Granny O Doul: <White's 63rd move was a last, desperate throw; if Korchnoi incautiously promotes, 64.Qa1+ picks up the newly minted queen.>

On 64. Qa1+, the interpostion Bb1 comes with check.

So Korchnoi could have queened the pawn. On the other hand, his presumed oversight only forced him to play one more move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: So he could--completely overlooked that! (laughs)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <perfidious: So he could--completely overlooked that! (laughs)> It's a little hidden from view!

How do you pronounce Grefe? As in grief? As in ref but with a g? Something else?

May-29-20  Granny O Doul: As in grief. Years ago Chess Life ran a tournament report with this helpful bit: "John Grefe (pronounced--forget it)". I took this to mean it was too complicated to get into, so I was somewhat disappointed when I finally learned, but at least it was nice not to have to wonder any more.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The Soviets pronounced it gre-feh.
Premium Chessgames Member
  andrewjsacks: This is a remarkably interesting game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I don't get the sense that black was winning until moves 47 and 54, when white gave up two ♙s -- needlessly, as it seems to me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Fun fact--Lone Pine 1979 awarded two brilliancy prizes *per round,* and this game didn't receive one.
Jun-04-20  thegoldenband: I found a newspaper article that says Grefe did indeed pronounce his name "grief":

Technically it says "Grefe pronounces his name to rhyme with 'grief'", but apparently homophones don't rhyme.

Jun-04-20  scormus: Amazing contest, Korchnoi gave a masterclass demonstration of sustained positional play. As well as remarkable vision in the opening.

< An Englishman> Incredible that this game didn't get a brilliancy prize.

<patzerboy> excellent summary. I'd also been wondering where the book ended

Jun-04-20  morfishine: Cool game

Korchnoi is a French expert, so the defining lines of 'book' become blurred in the hands of such an aficionado

Jun-04-20  Brenin: One of the most difficult situations for me to judge or to play is the battle between Q and R+B or N. In today's POTD <Morozevich vs H Hamdouchi> the pieces, aided by back-rank mating threats and a passed pawn, immediately overwhelm her majesty, but here it's guerrilla warfare for over 50 moves, with Korchnoi masterfully restricting her movements until almost the end, when the advanced f pawn is decisive.
Jun-04-20  Ironmanth: Enjoyed this protracted fight. Was always a fan of John Grefe in the 70's; sad to see him pass in 2013. RIP to both these fine players. Stay safe out there, all!
Jun-04-20  jith1207: Good matching pattern in today's <GOTD> & <POTD>.

The <Moro> game though was Q+B Vs R+B+N+advanced Passed Pawn+Back Rank mating threat, which was too much to bear.

Jun-04-20  JohnBoy: Wild game! I knew JG years ago when he won the US championship. Very nice guy.

I would have played 13.Bc1 to free the rook. But my second guess ain't worth much...

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: As soon as I saw it on the home page, I knew it was from Lone Pine.

Those were incredible tournaments, packed with chess superstars. Other than the Sinquefield Cups and San Antonio Church's Chicken, America hasn't had tournaments like Lone Pine for 100 years.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: What a great game! It's worth playing over more than once.

I don't know whether Korchnoi's 11...axb5 was sound or not. Which, of course, leads me to think: WWSD? (What Would Stockfish Do?). So this is its (version 11) analysis to d=39 after 11.a5:

click for larger view

1. [+0.66]: 11...Qd8 12.Nbxd4 Nc6 13.Bd3 g6 14.Nxc6 Bxc6 15.Ke2 Bh6 16.Qb4 Qe7 17.Qxe7+ Nxe7 18.Bxh6 Rxh6 19.Nd4 Bd7 20.c3 Nc6 21.f4 Kf8 22.Ke3 Rc8 23.g3 Kg7 24.Nf3 Rc7 25.Ra3 Rh8 26.Rha1 Rf8 27.Rb3 Rh8 28.Kf2 Rf8 29.Kg1 Rfc8 30.h3 Rf8 31.Rb6 Rfc8 32.Bc2 Rf8 33.Kf2 Rh8 34.Kg2

2. [+0.84]: 11...Qc6 12.Nbxd4 Qc7 13.Bd3 Nc6 14.Nxc6 Bxc6 15.Kf1 Bb5 16.h4 Ne7 17.Kg1 Bxd3 18.cxd3 Ng6 19.Qe3 Qd7 20.Rc1 Be7 21.g3 f6 22.Bc3 Kf7 23.Kh2 Rac8 24.Qe2 Bc5 25.Rhe1 d4 26.Bd2 Qd5 27.Rc4 Ba7 28.Kg1 Qd7 29.b3 Rxc4 30.bxc4 Bb8 31.exf6 gxf6 32.Qe4 e5 33.Kg2 Kg7

3. [+0.93]: 11...Qc5 12.Nbxd4 Nh6 13.Bd3 g6 14.c3 Nf5 15.Be3 Qc7 16.Bxf5 gxf5 17.Nxf5 exf5 18.e6 Qxf4 19.exd7+ Kxd7 20.Bxf4 Bd6 21.Bxd6 Kxd6 22.Nd4 Ke5 23.Ke2 Kf6 24.Rhd1 Nc6 25.Kf1 h4 26.h3 Rhe8 27.Ra4 Rab8 28.Kg1 Re4 29.f3 Re7 30.Nb3 Rbe8 31.Nc5 Re2 32.Rxh4 Rxb2 33.Rxd5 Nxa5

4. [+1.88]: 11...axb5 12.axb6 Rxa1+ 13.Bc1 Bb4+ 14.Kd1 Nc6 15.Bxb5 Bc5 16.Bxc6 Bxc6 17.Nxd4 Ne7 18.Nxc6 Nxc6 19.c3 Bxb6 20.Kc2 Bc7 21.Re1 b5 22.Qg3 g6 23.f4 Kd7 24.Bd2 Raa8 25.Rd1 Rhb8 26.Be3 Ra5 27.Qf3 b4 28.c4 b3+ 29.Kd2 Rb4 30.cxd5 Rxd5+ 31.Ke1 Nd4 32.Bxd4 Rbxd4 33.Rxd4 Rxd4 34.Qb7 Rxf4

5. [+4.45]: 11...Qxb5 12.Bxb5 Bxb5 13.Nxd4 Bd7 14.h4 Ne7 15.Bb4 Nbc6 16.Nxc6 Bxc6 17.Qg5 Rd8 18.Rd1 Rd7 19.Kf1 Rh7 20.Kg1 d4 21.Bxe7 Bxe7 22.Qf4 Rh6 23.Rxd4 Rxd4 24.Qxd4 Rg6 25.Rh2 Rg4 26.Qa7 Bd8 27.Qb8 Rc4 28.c3 Ra4 29.Rh3 Rxa5 30.Rg3 g6 31.Rd3 Rd5 32.Rxd5 Bxd5 33.c4 Bc6 34.Qc8 a5 35.Kh2 a4

At this point it assesses the queen sac after 11...axb5 to be Black's 4th best move, and assessing that White has a significant advantage. It leads to the following position after theoretically best play by both sides:

click for larger view

Black has approximate material equality (R+B+P vs. Q) but Black's Pb3 cannot be held, although Black can then win White's Pe5 to restore approximate material equality. Restarting the analysis from this position Stockfish at d=41 considers several moves including 36.Qxb3, 36.Qb5+, and 36.h3 to have roughly equal merit, evaluating the resulting positions after these moves between [+0.55] and [+0.50] indicating that White has a minor advantage, nothing more, and the position above is unlikely to lead to a win by White. So it seems like Stockfish's initial assessment of the queen sac after 11...axb5 was too optimistic for White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Sliding forward along the game's line after 11...axb5 12.axb6 Rxa1+ we reach the following position:

click for larger view

Here White has only 2 legal moves, 13.Ke2 as played by Grefe and 13.Bc1 as suggested by <JohnBoy>. Here is how Stockfish assessed each move at d=41:

1. [+1.78]: 13.Bc1 Nc6 14.Bd3 Nb4 15.Ke2 Nxd3 16.cxd3 Nh6 17.Qxd4 Nf5 18.Qc3 Bc6 19.Rd1 b4 20.Qc2 d4 21.Bg5 Ra5 22.Rc1 Bc5 23.h3 0-0 24.Qd2 h4 25.Nxh4 Nxh4 26.Bxh4 Rfa8 27.Qf4 Rb5 28.Kf1 Ra2 29.Rb1 Rxb6 30.Rc1 Rb5 31.Kg1 Bf8 32.Kh2 Rc5 33.Rb1 Bb5 34.Qxd4 Rd5

click for larger view

Restarting the analysis from this position Stockfish evaluates the resulting position at [+1.84]. d=43 (White having a significant advantage) after 35.Qb6. So it looks like Stockfish's evaluation of 13.Bc1 was reasonable and that <JohnBoy>'s suggestion that 13.Bc1 provides White with better chances than 13.Ke2 was correct.

2. [-0.68]: 13.Ke2 Nc6 (here Stockfish already deviates from Grefe's 13...Ne7 with a more active more but the line can still transpose to the game) 14.b4 d3+ 15.Kxd3 Ra3+ 16.Ke2 Nge7 17.Be1 Ra4 18.Qc1 Nxb4 19.Bxb4 Rxb4 20.Ke1 Nc8 21.Bd3 Nxb6 22.Kf1 Be7 (Black has R+N+2P for its queen and seems to be more than OK, but White has played very passively) 23.h4 Bc6 24.Kg1 Ra4 25.Kh2 0-0 26.Qf1 Nc4 27.g3 Bc5 28.Qe2 g6 29.Ng5 Rfa8 30.Re1 Be7 31.Qf3 Rf8 32.Qf4 Nb2 33.Qe3 Nxd3 34.Qxd3 Kg7 35.Rc1 Ra2 36.Qd1 Rfa8 37.Rb1 b4

click for larger view

Black still has a slight material advantage, R+B+2P vs. Q but its pieces are more active and it has the 2 bishops as well. I would think that Black's advantage would be greater than [-0.68] and indeed, restarting the analysis from this position, Stockfish evaluates the resulting position from [-6.49] to [-7.53], d=43, all clearly winning, after 38.Qd2, 38.g4, 38.Qc1, 38.Nf3, and 38.Rb3. So, although these are all long and potentially questionable lines (White has played very passively throughout), it seems that 13.Ke2 was White's losing move.

But then, WDSK? (What Does Stockfish Know?)

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Here is something interesting... When ol' Grumpy (that would be V.K.) uses the French (any variation) Defense, there are 390 games in dateabase.

V.K.'s record: +140 -75 =175

Yeah, that is playing as black... That is a bit less than twice as many wins as losses.

With the French, V.K. won 35.9% where average total black victory (any and all openings, via database, is 28.14%)

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